Entries Tagged 'Comics' ↓

Birthday of Blood – page 2

wednesday comix: the thursday edition!

Wait...what? Wednesday comix on a Thursday? "Well, that's unpossible!", you say. "Unsane!" Maybe it's just so unsane that it's sane. Think about that.

I, Zombie #1 (Vertigo; w: Chris Roberson p/i: Mike Allred)

I really enjoyed I, Zombie #1, but then I find it difficult to control my emotions when presented with the art of Mike Allred. From Madman! to Red Rocket 7 to especially especially ESPECIALLY his run on X-Force (which morphed into X-Statix thanks to whiny fanboys (and girls)), I can't get enough of his luscious lines. So yes, I'll admit it: I was predisposed to like this book on some level. Lucky for me, the story is intriguing enough that I won't be coming back solely for the art.

Gwen Dylan is a gravedigger...and a zombie. She's tasked with eating a brain once a month lest she degenerate into one of those zombies- you know, the kind that stand around going "muhhhh" and attempting to eat people. So, after her shift Gwen digs up someone she's just buried and munches on a foul, mouldering cerebellum. When she does this, she absorbs the memories of the deceased (duh, that's just science)...and they're not always pleasant. Sometimes the dead person was murdered to death, and to quell the images in her head, Gwen must solve the mystery and find the killer.

Zombie Nancy Drew? Yes, please. In I, Zombie, the small town of Eugene, Oregon is home not only to zombie gravediggers but vampire paintballers, go-go girl ghosts, and "wereterriers". All drawn by Mike Allred. I'll say it again: yes, please. And the first issue, at least, is only a buck! YES, PLEASE.

We Will Bury You #2-3 (IDW; w: Brea Grant, Zane Austin Grant p/i: Kyle Strahm)

Here's my review of WWBY #1 to get you up to speed.

WWBY #2 picks up right where the first issue ended, as lovers Fanya and Mirah find themselves confused and surrounded by the living dead on the streets of New York City. They've got to figure out what's going on, find a way to get to safety, and work through the little issue of, you know, Fanya having killed Mirah's husband. As the voices on the radio insist that America's hearty "can-do" spirit will see the country through the crisis, reports leak through that Europe and Asia have fallen to the strange plague as well. The smart writing and social commentary present in the first issue continues here, and man- artist Kyle Strahm has really amped up the gore as the zombies decimate the population of New York. The last page alone is worth the price of admission.

In WWBY#3, the girls find themselves at Coney Island, holed up with the sideshow freaks and a few military-types. When one is faced with the a zombie apocalypse outside the window, an inevitable question arises: do you fortify the building, or look for an escape route? What's the best way to ensure the safety of the group? Fanya, who fled war and revolution in her native Ukraine, says that "It all ends sometime. You just have to know how to survive." Man, there's only one issue of this mini-series left. I'm kind of dying to find out if Fanya and Mirah will survive. Stupid zombies, always ruining everything!

Night Business #1-3 (Traditional Comics; w/a: Benjamin Marra)

I'd hope that all I would need to do to convince you to pick up Night Business is to post the cover for issue #3. So here.

If that's not enough, then watch this.

If you're still not convinced, then know this: I had more fun reading Night Business than I've had reading comics in a long time. The story- a violent tale of a knife-wielding slasher killing strippers throughout the city- is set in 1983. This is no faux-retro bullshit à la the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, however- it's as if Marra found some vintage comics in a time capsule and decided to publish them himself. These books reek of the 80s in the best way possible, and I found myself glancing at the cover several times to reassure myself that these are put out by Traditional Comics and not, say, Malibu or Now. Though it's black & white on newsprint (YES newsprint), it feels like teal & magenta in neon. From the art to the language, from the clothes to the names, from the punches thrown to the tough-guy attitudes, from the nipples bared to all that fucking hair, Night Business is exploitation perfection.

In my dreams, somehow Night Business will come out as a movie (straight to Vidmark VHS) in 1985 and all of the strippers- every last one of them- will be played by Linnea Quigley. The tough-as-nails detective, of course, will be played by Christopher George. Go to Traditional Comics and get these. What more can I say?

i’ll probably regret this…

...but why not start SOMETHING ELSE?

You see, I was rummagin' around in mah drawers and what did I find?

I should note right now that I mean drawers drawers, not undies drawers. I hope that if I go rummagin' around in there I won't find any surprises whatsoever.

Anyway, I found pages from a couple of stick figure comic books I started many moons ago but never finished. One is not horror, but one is. It's called Birthday of Blood, and here's the deal: many MANY moons ago- like, moons before Final Girl started (yes, there was a time when this blog did not exist! Weird.)- I wrote a stupid short script for a slasher movie called...umm, Birthday of Blood. I intended to shoot it totally as a laugh, really for no one to see save the people involved. Now, when I say "a slasher movie" I mean "a slasher movie", like taking all the elements of the slasher flick formula and plugging them in Mad Libs-style. There's the Joker, the Slut, the Crazy Townsperson, etc etc. All your favorite archetypes and tropes in 20 not great pages!

Well, we shot some footage, including the [uh, SPOILER ALERT] exciting death of the Crazy Townsperson and the film's climax. We shot quite a bit, actually, but circumstances ultimately led to an unfinished movie. I don't even have the footage anymore, to the best of my knowledge...although who knows, maybe I'll find it someday during another rummage session.

I've thought many times about starting over with it, but...mehhhhhh. Not worth the effort. It's really not very good, and in the years since Birthday of Blood I've written other things that are better, that are worth the effort. But! To the point of all this, that Birthday of Blood stick figure comic I started. I guess I thought that stick figures might add a little something zesty to Birthday. Or maybe I was drunk. At any rate, I did a page or two, then quit when something more pressing came along. I shoved it in a drawer, blah blah blah, here we are today.

So, I'm gonna post up page one, and then I'm postin' up a poll. Should I continue this comic? If I do, I'll post one page a week, on Fridays, here at Final Girl. I'm not sure why anybody would say no- I mean, all you have to do in this endeavor is read it. Or not. But anyway, I'm torn...so I put it in your hands, which, again...I'll probably regret! As always, clicken ze big big.

hey comics nerds!

I mean the kind of comics nerds who are so nerdy that they order things out of Previews: yeah, you...the hardcore. A book I inked approximately 43 years ago (finished on the eve of my 21st birthday!), Vincent Price Presents: Dead Air, is finally solicited for a June release. Yay!

Now, I know that those of you who don't pre-order, those who simply buy books off the shelf will surely remember this come June, so I won't need to ever mention it again.

A Comedy of Comics

YOU: Stacie! Why isn't your name listed on the cover or in the solicitation or on the publisher's page? Are you lying about your involvement with this book?

ME: No, I'm not lying. It's just that inkers are scum, and they deserve no respect. I expect my name was listed grudgingly inside the book, if only to avoid the legal ramifications of leaving me out of it. And yes, I by 'legal ramifications' I mean 'an appearance on People's Court with Judge Marilyn Milian.'

YOU: Okay, if that's what you mean, then I hope your name is NOT listed inside.

ME: Me too.

YOU: Hey, how come that picture of the cover you posted up there says it's issue #18, but the publisher's website says it's issue #19? Is this an April Fools' "joke"?

ME: The only joke here is this one: a bishop and his curate are breakfasting together and the bishop says: 'I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones.' To which the curate replies, 'Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!'

YOU: That's not funny.

ME: It's from 1871!

YOU: Oh, well then. I stand corrected.

from Ye Olde Vaulte: ALIENS

Because I haven't watched anything, I'm feeling lazy, and people didn't my comic strip review of Track of the Moon Beast, I've decided to post this old strip which I found earlier tonight when I was digging around in my hard drive* for...something.

You'll notice, perhaps, that this Aliens strip ends in a very similar fashion to the Track of the Moon Beast strip. I like to think that's because I'm "exploring themes" and not because I'm "lame" and I "only have two jokes". But still, it's a weird...I don't know, coincidence? Whatever you want to call it. I touched on it yesterday, but I think it's worth noting as a notable note: I truly did begin the Moon Beast strip intending it to be something completely different than what it ended up as. You know, I thought it might be an actual review that would at the very least make mention of "California Lady". Then I just started drawing and, well, you saw what happened. I guess this is just how my brain functions. Stupid brain!

Anyway. Click to embiggen!

I would also like to point out that either that bus is fucking humongous, or that old woman is extremely small.

Also, there's apparently a bus stop right outside the spaceship docking bay.

*not as hot as it sounds

Track of the Moon Beast!

Click to embiggen!

I realize I didn't mention the awesome musical interlude, or the fact that in the end, Professor Johnny Longbow kills Lizard Paul, who "explodes"- meaning, the screen turns red. What can I say? I start these comics and then they end up in a different place than I'd originally intended. C'est la something something.

I did, however, write about my favorite scene from this film and how much it affected me when I was a dumb kid over at Mermaid Heather...so, you know, you can read that if you want to.

wednesday comix: Q & A with Zane Grant, writer of WE WILL BURY YOU

Remember last week, when I reviewed We Will Bury You #1? And then that night on The Scare-ening, Heidi and I talked with Brea Grant, one of the book's writers? And then Zane Austin Grant, the other writer on the book, was a surprise call-in guest? And they were cool? Remember all that? Wasn't it cool? Well, it gets even cooler because Zane went and answered some questions. Questions from ME! Do you think I'm cool??

One thing I love about both Brea and Zane is that they're actually, you know, horror fans. Talking with them obliterates any doubts you may have about their motivation behind writing We Will Bury You, about whether or not it's simply a vanity project for some actress. I mean...who knew The Driller Killer could provide such fodder for discourse?

I'm an only child, but from my understanding, brothers and sisters are supposed to hate each other and pull each others' hair. Why, then, would you want to write a comic book with your sister? How did the idea of working together come about?

We both like comics and horror movies, and we get along really well, so…. I’m always surprised when people ask about sibling rivalry. I think we compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses well while working together.

Practically speaking, how did you share scripting duties (ie, did you divide up the characters, etc)?

The way we work is we read a lot about our setting and make notes for stories. Then we get together and outline them, so we knew basically what’s going to happen, but not necessarily how it was going to play out. From there, we just traded off scenes, which I think works for the most part. Can you tell what I wrote and what she wrote? I can’t, because we edited each other so much to keep the tone consistent. Brea wrote all the nasty parts while I looked away and covered my ears, and I did the moralizing parts, so that’s breaks down writing duties into solid categories.

Why is We Will Bury You set in the 1920s?

The 1920’s was the first decade of sexual revolution in the U.S. and a lot of different political ideas were being discussed leading up the great depression, which snuffed a lot of those kinds of things out because suddenly more people were just trying to survive. The lack of certain technologies like cell phones and future weapons makes the spread of mass violence scarier as well. Plus, it just had a good aesthetic that works out well as a setting for a visual medium like comics. We wanted to take the magic of pre-code movies and add it to the outcasts of Tod Browning’s films and make it relevant and entertaining.

What are some of your influences for WWBY, both in terms of horror (whether written, cinematic, or other) and comics?

We try to have a lot of reveals in the books, which were inspired by the surprise endings of EC horror comics. And the shallowness of some of the people Mirah and Fanya run into sort of match the EC tone, where people react almost too normally but they are all hiding something. Also, there is a way in which, we are also reacting to Walking Dead, which pushed the genre in a way by showing horror comics can be ongoing and still have some attachment to the traditional horror genre. I mean Swamp Thing is one of my favorite comics, and it’s horror in a way (he fights mermaid vampires, right?), but it seems like an uncomfortable fit for the genre. A lot of Vertigo horror stuff is like that, especially from the 1990’s, where it’s scary and amazing, but the tone is more psychedelic than horrific, which we eventually delve into. We were inspired, of course, by Romero, but there are other pieces we pull from like Wild Zero (which has a trans person), the Greek zombie film Evil, 28 Days Later, and in the first issue we played with the slasher view from the first page. We give you the view from the husband of this woman he is obsessed with and she is dressing, and he’s nuts.

How did you come across Kyle Strahm's work, and what is it about his art that attracted you? Was there a specific style you wanted when you were looking for an artist, or did it strike you when you found it?

We looked a lot of artists, and Kyle’s portfolio stood out because it was cartoony but had the grotesque feel of too many wrinkles to it, which is how we wanted to write this book. We did some color tests with Zac Atkins, the colorist on the book, on Kyle’s work and really liked the way it looked.

How are you working with Kyle in terms of the script? Are you giving him detailed panel descriptions à la Alan Moore, or are you using the "Marvel method", or something in-between?

We don’t write poetry in our scripts, though we hope to some day. I’m not sure if you can get away with doing that your first book, the artist might quit. We tend to stick to basic descriptions, dialog, and reference pictures for some things. When Kyle wants more, he asks. Like we were bad about military uniform research and what revolvers officers were issued, so he just asked and we did some research and got back to him.

Why do you think comics are the best medium to use in telling this story?

Comics is the best medium to tell any story…. Heh…. But also, I think horror works best as a visual medium, or maybe easiest as a visual medium is more accurate. People have a stronger reaction to seeing pain than reading about it. I do anyway.

In the better zombie films, zombies are usually representative of a societal issue or a certain populace. I have my own thoughts on what they represent in WWBY...did you intend for them to be metaphorical, or did you just choose zombies for your bad guys?

On societal issues and horror, I had an argument with my friend Carrie, who does tryharderyall blog, about Driller Killer a while back because on your blog, you gave it a kind of class analysis, which is my default to reading pretty much everything except that movie. I think Abel Ferrara drills strangers because he is sexually repressed and the gay art dealer and the freaky girlfriend and ambiguous art band singer throw that repression in his face and he can’t deal, and she agreed with your analysis… in the end I saw the film as doing both. Anyway, I think Romero’s films tore apart race and class and gender in nuanced ways that we aspire to, but we use our zombies as heavy handed metaphor for fundamentalist views about economic and cultural values.

How much backstory/history is there going to be for the outbreak in WWBY? Do you think it's important for writers and/or filmmakers to give a reason why the dead return to life?

In the beginning, We Will Bury You was set up as three volumes and the third would have a metaphysical explanation of the gates of hell and how they had to be closed, but no one gets a contract for 36 issues on their first book, so that didn’t happen. Really, I’m of the opinion that it’s not that important why the dead come back. When people try to rationalize zombies, I usually get bored. Whether they explain it through the occult, like Fulci’s hanging priest or Louisiana hotel with a gate to hell installed in the basement, or nuclear waste like in Return of the Living Dead, it just takes away from the fact that most people would never know why, but just have to come up with a way to live.

Are your zombies slow or fast? On which side of the fast/slow zombie horror nerd argument do your loyalties lie?

Fast zombies are scary and have made slow zombies harder to make scary, which is sad. Our zombies are about mass, so they are slow. I’m scared of those rooms in mansions that have walls that close in on you, sometimes with spikes. I want to find the architect who designed those rooms, but that’s a different story. Our zombies are scary like those rooms.

When I think of spiked rooms, I think of Resident Evil. Actually, when I think of ANYTHING I think of Resident Evil. I love Resident Evil.

Talk a bit about being a comics fan and a horror fan. How did you get into each, what are some of your favorites, etc. What do you consider to be the best horror comic of today? Of all time? What's your favorite zombie movie?

I got into comics when I was a kid, but I was scared of horror comics when I was that young. Now, I am a fan of the old EC stuff like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror, but I think the best contemporary horror comics are Locke and Key, Creepy, Walking Dead, Hellblazer, Night Business and pretty much any horror books Ben Templesmith does. Brea actually got into horror films before me, so I would watch stuff she rented sometimes. We had seen all the major stuff like the Elm Streets and 13ths and that stuff, and then about five years ago my friend Orion moved in with me and brought his horror VHS collection, which is in the hundreds. So, I got to know the genre a bit better through that, got to see more Italian stuff, and now my friend Carrie has a pretty good collection of VHS horror, some really good/bad Media stuff. My favorite zombie movie is the original Dawn.

Are you hitting any conventions this summer? Any more comics in your future?

I will be at MoCCA fest in New York April 10th and 11th, San Diego Comicon this summer, and Small Press Expo in D.C./Maryland in September. I hope to do some more cons, and we will probably be in Austin and have a release for the second issue of We Will Bury You the last week in April. I have an article about comics creator Dash Shaw coming out in Looking Glass Magazine this month. I’m teaching a comics writing course to teens at Brooklyn Artists Gym, and Brea and I are working on another series we hope gets picked up… and I want to do a comic version of Driller Killer.

wednesday comix: WE WILL BURY YOU #1

The 1920s were a tumultuous time. Lindbergh made the first solo, non-stop trans-Atlantic flight. Telephones were en vogue. Women fought for their rights. Prohibition kept boozin' on the DL. Pole sitting and marathon dancing were popular. Then there was that zombie outbreak in New York City.

Yes, zombies in the Big Apple...so goes 1927 as imagined by writers Brea Grant, Zane Austin Grant, and artist Kyle Strahm. Before it gets to the zombies, though, We Will Bury You offers a fascinating glimpse into the sexual politics of the day. Our heroine, Mirah, is all flapper chic, enticing men to spend their money dancing with her in a clip joint. She 's married to Henry, who finds his wife's profession and attitude wanton and her morals loose. Mirah rails against his misogynist attitude.

While at her place of employ later on, Mirah meets up with her lover Fanya, a cross-dressing Ukranian immigrant. Before we delve too deeply into their relationship, there's a zombie outbreak in the club. The women end up on the street, in the midst of bedlam.

Until the undead showed up, I almost forgot that We Will Bury You is a zombie horror comic- and that's not a bad thing. The brother-sister writing team of Zane and Brea Grant set the story in an interesting time period, one that's politically charged; as zombie films (particularly those from George Romero) tend to be rife with social commentary, so it should come as no shock that a zombie comic can be the same. Still, I almost didn't want the zombies to show up quite yet, for I was enjoying the character development at play. I'm anxious, though, to see how the rest of the mini-series plays out.

Not gonna lie: it took me a while to get used to Kyle Strahm's artwork. Photoshop and Illustrator have all but taken over the mainstream comics industry; there's a slickness to most modern comic art that's pretty but oddly soulless- sometimes there isn't any paper involved in the process at all. Strahm's art seems to be the opposite of that. There's a tactile quality to it, as if he's dug the pen into the paper. Of course, this fits with the whole "rotting corpses" angle quite nicely. His R. Crumb meets Rick Geary meets Richard Corben style is gruesome...so much so that it can be difficult, at times, to discern the living from the dead from the undead.

Overall, I'd say don't avoid We Will Bury You, even if you think zombies are overplayed. This book shows there's still some meat left on those rotting bones.

but what about tony?

I was just poking around my hard drive (not as sexy as it sounds) and I found this Shining-related comic strip from...well, from the days when I was doin' a comic strip (also not as sexy as it sounds). It's a few years old (!!!), so it may be new to you. Yes, this is the thrift store of posts- click to embiggen!


When I was only small, my elementary school would have these fucking rad events called Book Fairs. A few times a year, a small room off the cafeteria was filled with books books books you could buy buy buy. They were open late-ish so you could come back after dinner with your mom or dad and...you know, buy some books. As a nerd, I really looked forward to these fairs, and my mom always obliged my nerdish tendencies (she still does, by the way). We'd go and I'd come home with a small armful of gems: some Judy Blume, some Beverly Cleary (Ramona Quimby for the win)...and certainly anything horror-related. As the books were aimed at grade-schoolers, the pickin's were slim, unless you count Bunnicula (which I do). One particularly magical year- of course it was 1981- they had the Classics Illustrated edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula. As you can imagine, young Final Girl snatched that shit up. I mean, who could resist Dracula in a purple suit- complete with see-through purple cape!- floating around in front of his green castle? Certainly not I, and thankfully not my mom, either.

The story was adapted by Naunerle Farr and Nestor Redondo. As I grew up to be a fairly well-read comics fan, I've become familiar with the late Redondo's fantastic work through the 70s and 80s on titles like House of Secrets, The Witching Hour, and Conan. He concentrated heavily in horror-based comics, for which his gothic flair is particularly well-suited. Of course, when I was poring over Dracula again and again, my opinion on his amazing draftsmanship wasn't one that would...well, include words like "draftsmanship", but I still knew beautiful art when I saw it. Seriously, You couldn't count on 3456892358984292 hands the number of times I've gawked at this book. The linework and inks are so good, I kind of want to eat them.

Many comics have become about detail, about cramming as much crap into a panel as possible; of course there are big exceptions to this (Mike 'Hellboy' Mignola is the first that comes to mind), but to me there's simply an overabundance of unnecessary information on the pages. I don't know where this came from- the Image boom in the 90s, from editors or from the artists themselves- but it's resulted in artists not being able to maintain a monthly schedule. Working together, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers could crank out 8-9 pages a day, in no small part thanks to the fact that there's not a lot of extra stuff on the page. You get everything you need as a reader and it's creative and gorgeous, but it's simple.

This is all my big old lady complainy-way of saying that the panels in Dracula have atmosphere to spare and lush environments, but it's streamlined. Take, for example, one of my favorite pages:

The back of the book also has some sweet WORDS TO KNOW:
  • ancestors
  • bloodthirsty
  • chapel
  • howling
  • ignorant
  • superstition
  • vampire
and some reading comprehension questions:
  • What is a blood transfusion? What good was a blood transfusion after being attacked by Dracula?
  • What animals could Dracula change into?
  • How can a person protect himself from a vampire?
I certainly hope for the sake of all teeny tiny nerds out there- especially the horror nerds- that book fairs are still alive and well and they sell amazing comics like Dracula. How else are kids supposed to learn about words like "bloodthirsty", or know what sexy vampire ladies look like? Won't someone think of the purple suits?

Film Club: The Wicker Man

If you are particularly astute, you will notice that I have done a comic for this month's installment of the Film Club.

If you are super wicked astute, you will notice that I just darkened the pencils rather than inking the strip. This was my effort to give the comic an old-timey, vintage feel.

That, or I was just feeling lazy. Either way, clicking makes 'em big!

Film Club Coolies, y'all!
Nilbog Milk
Creature Cast
Slammed & Damned
Invasion of the B-Movies
Zombie Cupcake
Hey! Look Behind You!
The Verdant Dude
Mike Petrik
The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense
In One Ear...
Pussy Goes Grrr
Movie Reviews and Everything Else
Mother Firefly's Faster Pussycats
Things That Don't Suck
The United Provinces of Ivanlandia
Mermaid Heather (she's back...one of us! one of us!)
Emma Blackwood

wednesday comix: TOMB of DRACULA #69

One of my earliest AMC columns was all about horror comics becoming horror movies- which ones stink, which ones anti-stink, and so on- and in it I mentioned Tomb of Dracula #69 (April 1979, yo!), the penultimate issue in Marvel's Dracula saga. It's the first comic I remember owning- choosing it from the newsstand because of this amazing cover (click to embiggen):

Now, I know I've talked about this comic in the past, about how it put me on the road to becoming the horror & comic fan I am today- and it certainly ignited my love of the gross-looking vampire. I mean, the issue- which finds Dracula stripped of his status as Lord of the Vampires and on the run from an angry vamp horde- features said gross-looking bloodsuckers trying to get their cold, bony fingers on kids. Kids! I was a kid! No one was safe from the hungry undead! EYAAAAGH!

So, sure, I'm repeating myself a bit, but in this day and age of angst-ridden sparkling vampires, I think it bears repeating: Tomb of Dracula was a brilliant comic book proving that vampires could be wrapped up in soap opera-worthy storylines and they could be mysterious, evil, and scary. I mean:
The dead ones laugh, and the laugh is as cold as their rain-soaked flesh!
Please- that's the shit.

The writing-pencilling-inking team of Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, and Tom Palmer is one of those magical unions that comes along every so often in the world of comics, where words and art serve each other and mesh together flawlessly enough that the work is still celebrated 30 years on. You can pick up the entire saga in black and white (which only adds to the gothic atmosphere) in 3 volumes of Marvel Essentials: Tomb of Dracula and settle in for some sweet comics-y goodness. Marvel was a heavy hitter in horror in the 1970s, and ToD stands out as some of the best stuff they've ever published.

Suck on that!

wednesday comix: VICTORIAN UNDEAD #1

And so begins a new weekly feature here at FG: talking about horror comics. Why Wednesday? Because duh, that's new comic day. Why "comix"? Because duh, the "x" makes it cool. Anyway, I'll be reviewing books both new and old, posting up some art I like, interviewing people, or even posting my own comics-related junk on Wednesdays. Hooray for comics!

DC Comics hits the zeitgeist of hip current trends with Victorian Undead, as the series pits Sherlock Holmes against zombies. After the zombies became a huge hit on the indie circuit (led in large part by Robert Kirkman's ongoing zombie saga The Walking Dead), major publishers began incorporating the undead in their titles- most notably Marvel Zombies. Here we've got the world's greatest detective (sorry, Batman) pitted against the living-impaired. Is this mash-up possible without it simply being...well, a ridiculous cash-in?

Surprisingly, yes. In the hands of writer Ian Edginton, (no stranger to Holmes and other classic lit comic book adaptations), Victorian Undead is a bit closer to Doyle's vision than the forthcoming Guy Ritchie film looks to be.

A meteor plummets into the heart of London in 1854 causing widespread panic and death...and undeath.

Somehow, the zombie plague subsides until corpses are unearthed 40-odd years later as the London Underground is constructed. Dead bodies soon spring back to life looking to get their bite on, and authorities are baffled. There's clearly a mystery afoot, so naturally Scotland Yard calls on Sherlock Holmes and his ol' pal Watson.

If you can't get enough zombie action, you'll definitely dig this book as there's plenty of rotting action with the promise of more to come. The premise is familiar to anyone who's ever seen...well, anything to do with the undead, although who knows? There may be plenty of twists and turns down the road. As it stands, the Victorian setting is a welcome change from the modern band of misfits vs zombies formula.

Issue #1 (on sale now) boasts a delightfully fly-infested cover by the King of Zombie Comic Book Art, Tony Moore (he of The Walking Dead 1-6). The interiors, by Davide Fabbri, are a fantastic take on cartoonish realism...but dammit, it needs an inker.

All in all, it's a fun, pretty zombie comic with blood, mystery, and names like Jacques de Vaucanson dropped so you'll end up learning something new (he was totally inventing automatons in the 18th century). Thumbs up!

A copy of the comic was given to me by the publisher for reviewing purposes.

opening this weekend: the bite-sized edition

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: Whiteout is not a horror movie. Anyone who's read the 1998 mini-series/graphic novel (or the follow-up, Whiteout: Melt) knows it's a murder mystery. The ad campaign, however, makes the film seem like it's a supernatural creature feature or some such, along the lines of John Carpenter's The Thing. It's not.

It is, however, a pretty terrible movie.

US Marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is about to end her tenure at a research post in Antarctica- she sought the harsh, remote clime after her time with the Miami PD came to a bloody, abrupt end. Days before she's to ship out to the states, however, a body is found on the ice. Signs point to homicide, and as Stetko gets her detective on, more bodies pile up.

There's not much that Whiteout gets right, and it becomes obvious rather quickly why Dark Castle/Warner Brothers have kept it on a shelf for two years. Greg Rucka (who wrote the comic but, interestingly, not the screenplay- it took four other writers to do that) is rather known for his strong (and flawed) female characters, and on the page, Carrie Stetko is no exception. Here, she's given to exclaiming "Oh my God!" repeatedly as she bumbles her way through her investigation. Most puzzling- and, to an extent, infuriating- is the fact that we're introduced to her via a lengthy, completely gratuitous shower scene. The camera lingers on Kate Beckinsale's underwear-clad ass as she bends over, then we watch her stand on tiptoes in the steam so long that the audience starts giggling. Though it's far too obvious and silly a sequence, it might make a little sense if Stetko were at all sexualized throughout the rest of the film- but she's not. There's no romance, and nothing erotic or sensual about the character otherwise. "Degrading" is almost an appropriate word to use to describe it, but not in the sense of that age-old (and usually erroneous) "nudity in horror degrades women argument"- rather, it's degrading to the character. Beckinsale's wooden performance doesn't help, although she's not given much to work with.

Whiteout feels like a film that was made for the visually impaired- characters continually describe exactly what it is they're doing at the moment. Add to that flashback after flashback after descriptions of flashbacks we've seen as we see the flashbacks again, and the film becomes a dull, never-ending mobius strip of suck. When the words SIX MONTHS LATER flashed on screen at one point, I was sure it was real-time and half a year had gone by since I'd sat down. Six months is a long time, and so is ninety minutes- spend your ticket money on the comic books if you want entertainment.

While Whiteout isn't at all what the trailers convince you it is, Sorority Row totally is. Neither really good nor really bad, it's brainless horror movie fun, far more in line with I Know What You Did Last Summer than the source material- although there's one very subtle, sort of clever, blink and you'll miss it nod to the original.

It's a decent date movie- a few scares, a few laughs, some blood, some vicious kills, and an under-utilized Carrie Fisher...just like the trailers promised. Truth in advertising FTW!

wednesday is…

...AMC day! Wherein this week, if thou shouldst follow the linkage, you will behold a column by moi about blaxploitation horror movies. Scream, Horror Hacker, Scream!

...comic book day! It's true. Those of you out there who are not nerds may not know it, but Wednesday is the day all the new comics hit the shops. Soooo...I'm gonna point you to this interview with my pal Brent Schoonover. Why? Well, obviously because he's righteous. Also, because I'm inking his pencils on a little comic book called Vincent Price Presents! Yes, finally, Vincent Price is a comic book star. Our issue is forthcoming, and I'll be sure to keep you updated. The series is published by Bluewater Productions, an indie company who put out an eclectic mix of horror and political titles...yes, comics based on the Leprechaun franchise and the life of Michelle Obama are cranked off the same presses. As they should be.

At ant rate, here's a swell page by Brent and me, featuring Vincent gettin' his sweat on. Click to make it BIGGER!

Brent is a horror movie fan and a terrific artist; I saw this commission on his site and I had to repost it here. Mind you, I had to get a new keyboard first, as I'd drooled all over my last one when I saw this (again, click to embiggen):

...Prince Spaghetti Day! Or at least, that's what the Prince Spaghetti Company tried to convince us New Englanders back in the day. So...I'm programmed to eat pasta on hump day, even though Prince no longer exists and I'm on the left coast now. Hooray!